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The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: HBO Series 'Girls' Solidifies Lena Dunham's Place As A Bold New Voice in American Comedy

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 12, 2012 9:25 PM
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  • 10 Comments
As far as young independent filmmakers go, writer/director Lena Dunham has been the subject of an excessive amount of conversation and handwringing, even by the admittedly loose standards of the ever-chatty Internet age. Her first feature, "Creative Nonfiction," was accepted to South by Southwest and the follow-up, "Tiny Furniture," won the Best Narrative Feature award at the same festival. That film also managed to attract quite a bit of attention, with comedy world luminaries like Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow singing its praises and some comparing her confessional, no-nonsense style to the early work of Woody Allen.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Beast' A Lean & Surreal Portrait Of An Extreme Relationship That Doesn't Quite Go Far Enough

  • By Alison Willmore
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  • March 12, 2012 6:29 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Beast" is a lean, surreal portrait of a marriage in its extremes from Danish director Christoffer Boe, who's probably still best known for his 2003 feature debut "Reconstruction." The film's focus keeps almost exclusively to Bruno (Nicolas Bro) and Maxine (Marijana Jankovic), a couple whose relationship vacillates between love and hate and a meeting place between the two that approaches the feral. When we first see them, the pair are looking at a beautiful apartment they're considering buying. "Let's take this home and be a family," Bruno proposes. The hope and sweetness of the moment then goes slightly dissonant with unease when Maxine cuts her finger and Bruno sucks at the cut and talks, with all romanticism, about having a part of her inside him.

Scott Rudin & Sony To Remake SXSW Chess Documentary 'Brooklyn Castle'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 12, 2012 5:06 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It seems producer Scott Rudin has had a thing for documentaries lately. Back in January at Sundance, the acclaimed, Oscar winning producer picked up the remake rights to the buzzed about video game documentary "Indie Game: The Movie," and now at SXSW, he's swooped in on another doc hoping to turn it into a big screen story.

SXSW '12 Review: Omar Rodriguez Lopez's 'Los Chidos' Is Wild, Wacky, Weird, Bloody & Bold

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 12, 2012 12:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Not everyone is going to be ready for the ride through "Los Chidos" that director Omar Rodriguez Lopez offers up. But his willingness to scare off a few of the faint of heart preserves his commitment to a truly bold and unique vision and an aesthetic all his own. This is the fifth feature film of the Mars Volta guitarist and only the second to play at a festival, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Could this be the birth of a new auteur?

SXSW '12 Review: 'See Girl Run' Has A Slightly Too Leisurely Stride

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 11, 2012 9:40 PM
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  • 4 Comments
There's a fine line between delicacy and fragility, between a gentle unfolding and a stubbornly slow series of revelations. That line is what keeps Nate Meyer's "See Girl Run," a midlife romantic drama, from succeeding as well as the great cinematography and talented cast would have you hope. Robin Tunney's marriage is foundering in familiarity in New York; Adam Scott's relationship and life are stalled and stuck in the town she left behind, even as he draws elegant and joyous frogs and caricatures. So she comes home, to see her parents and her brother, and he sees her. And remembers how much he used to love her. And she remembers, too. But love is not memory, and love is not hope.

SXSW '12 Review: Reverence Outweighs Insight In Kevin Macdonald's 2 1/2 Hour 'Marley' Documentary

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • March 11, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A long film detailing a tragically short life, on paper, Kevin Macdonald's Bob Marley documentary "Marley" has more than enough of a pedigree to justify its 2 1/2 hour running time. After all, it's a biopic of one of the most influential and evergreen musical pioneers of all time, being brought to us by the respected documentarian behind the thrilling "Touching the Void" and the Oscar-winning "One Day In September." But the truth is that film's exhaustive approach at some point becomes simply exhausting, with its sporadic moments of true inspiration, almost all directly connected with the music or Bob's early life, serving mostly to remind of how by-the-numbers the rest of the movie is. It purports to bring us the man behind the myth, but 150 minutes later, the flesh-and-blood Marley remains frustratingly out of reach, and the myth is still reverently intact.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Small Apartments' Is An Awkward, Entirely Unsatisfying Mixture Of Sweetness And Filth

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 11, 2012 5:54 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Swedish filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund used to be the kind of director whose every move was worth following. He started out building buzz for his career by making controversial music videos, helming the sensational, barely-seen "Smack My Bitch Up" clip for Prodigy and, way more successfully, the "Ray of Light" music video for Madonna (a clip that won a record seven prizes at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards). Even his lesser videos (like his Cardigans' "Favorite Game" clip) were compelling and vital compared to most pedestrian and run-of-the-mill music videos. Åkerlund's videos were often defined by a willingness to delve into the scuzzier aspects of life (like the Prodigy video and Metallica's "Turn the Page") – visually his style was slick but also grimy, lit up by garish neon lights and high contrast colorization.

SXSW '12 Review: 'The Hunter' Is An Eerie And Deeply Affecting Eco-Thriller

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 11, 2012 5:01 PM
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  • 3 Comments
In their 2006 book "Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger," authors Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, then researchers at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, talked about becoming obsessed with a stuffed Tasmanian Tiger that they would walk by every day in the museum. It became "something akin to amorous fervor," and eventually they decided to take a trip to Tasmania to see if the tiger, which officially became extinct in 1936 when the lone survivor died at the Hobart Zoo, still existed, somewhere in the wild. It's the kind of mysterious animal – lithe, beautiful, angular – that inspires this kind of devotion, even decades after its extinction.

SXSW '12 Review: 'The Aggression Scale' Is Like 'Home Alone' With More Death (But Not As Fun As That Sounds)

  • By Alison Willmore
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  • March 11, 2012 4:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"The Aggression Scale" is like "Home Alone" with more death. If only it were as good a time as that description might lead you to believe. Directed by Steven C. Miller, who last made the Syfy Original "Scream of the Banshee," the movie is a schlocky pleasure when it finally gets around to delivering on its premise of a dysfunctional teen with violent tendencies taking on a group of thugs. But the build to that point is long, overly serious and reliant on actors and dialogue that aren't up to holding the screen through extended periods of talking or layering on of atmosphere. Character development is a quality of which genre films are often seriously in need, but it feels more like filler when your characters make no sense to begin with and most of them are just slaughter fodder.

SXSW '12 Review: At Its Best, Harmless 'Hunky Dory' Is Just That

  • By William Goss
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  • March 11, 2012 3:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s the summer of 1976, and between a conservative school administration and an unrelenting drought, things are beyond dry for Wales’ scrappier teens. It’s little wonder that they flock to the more permissive Miss Mae (Minnie Driver) and her glam-rock interpretation of Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" for the school play. Alas, "Hunky Dory" primarily concerns itself with familiar extracurricular woes and offers up much ado about nothing instead of a more rollicking or romantic coming-of-age story.

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